Few chefs are to be found among the many prognosticators who have made 2013 food and restaurant trend predictions. Which is why the list compiled by the chefs who work at ESquared Hospitality is worth a look. Who better to predict where the restaurant world is going than the people who create and execute the menus that will take it there?
Not familiar with ESquared Hospitality? It operates 25 restaurants around the globe, most of them in the U.S. Its portfolio includes big-ticket operations such as BLT Steak (11 units), BLT Prime, BLT Fish and somewhat less-pricey options like Fish Shack, BLT Burger, BLT Bar & Grill, Casa Nonna, The Florentine, Go Burger Bar & Grill and the upcoming BLT Market. The company even has a food truck that plies the streets of New York City under the Go Burger brand, giving its chefs an even-broader perspective on the restaurant industry.
Here are the six trends the ESquared chefs think will come to the forefront in 2013.
1. Vegetables. With consumers demonstrating an increased interest in more healthful, fresher ingredients, vegetables will be the stars of the 2013 menu with dishes inspired by the bounty of the harvest on the dinner plate, the dessert menu and in the cocktail glass.
2. Haute butchers. As a counterpoint to the veggie-centric movement, there remains a strong interest in meat. Consumers want to know where their protein comes from, that the animals were raised responsibly and specific details as to the quality and cut. Super-premium cuts such as wagyu will continue to be popular, and out of this fascination will emerge a new class of high-end, haute butcher shops, with service and style to rival a first-class boutique or gallery.
3. Natural. Restaurants will move beyond simply sourcing natural ingredients to explore cooking with minimal manipulation, to preserve the natural beauty and flavor of those ingredients on the plate. More natural options for cocktails are anticipated, replacing syrups, juices, honey and sugar with infusions made from organically grown fruits and vegetables.
4. Pit cooking. What’s old is new, and one of the oldest methods of cooking will experience a renaissance in 2013. Building on trend of whole animal feasts, whole animals will be buried with potatoes, vegetables and even desserts to slow roast over hot coals producing a savory, multicourse feast.
5. Discovery of new ingredients. In a culinary scene that thrives on new and different, all eyes are on the previously undiscovered ingredients coming out of the Amazon and less-cultivated parts of Asia. In 2013, we’ll see chefs infusing new Asian and South American ingredients into menu staples to produce truly fresh and innovative culinary creations.
6. Sommelier as friend. As consumers show the desire to learn and try new wines, the sommelier will play an increasingly prominent role in the dining experience. Look for guests to become even more comfortable relying on the sommelier for recommendations regardless of their taste preference, the amount of money they have to spend or the companion with whom they are sharing their meal.